Murder Charges for Marines

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jun 21, 2006 2:02 PM

Washington Post:

Seven Marines and a sailor have been charged with murder in the April death of an Iraqi civilian, the Marine Corps said Wednesday.

All eight also were charged with kidnapping, according to a Marine statement issued at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Other charges include conspiracy, larceny and providing false official statements...

In the case of the April killing of an Iraqi civilian, the allegation is that Marines pulled an unarmed man from his home on April 26 and shot him to death without provocation. Seven Marines and one Navy corpsman from the Pendleton-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment were taken out of Iraq in late May and put in the confinement at Pendleton pending the filing of charges.

I'm hoping that all the backtracking on Haditha may have taught the press to chill out just a little bit during this trial and let the evidence come out as it comes out before we start publicly convicting troops.

Perhaps they overplayed their hand with the Haditha hoopla and may back off that course of action. But you know how the press loves a juicy trial.

James S. Robbins reflects on more remembrance and forgetfulness
, in connection with the Haditha and Hamdania investigations:

My Lai was a Pulitzer Prize-winning story. The incident at Hue was overshadowed, and soon forgotten. But note the significant differences. My Lai was an indiscriminate, illegal act on the part of a small group of Americans, and was halted by Americans. When the events came to light, the officers involved were brought up on charges. By contrast, Hue was not an act of excess but the cold-blooded implementation of North Vietnamese policy. Those who committed the act were doing the bidding of their superiors, and had they not been wiped out by U.S. and ARVN forces they would have been hailed as heroes.

So why is it that My Lai has become a byword for brutality while Hue is a footnote? Why will Menchaca and Tucker be forgotten while incidents like those under investigation — or the grotesque theater of Abu Ghraib — will persist, fester, be written about, analyzed, become vehicles for critiques of U.S. policy, the military, or the whole of American culture?

By rights these incidents should demonstrate that we are better than our enemies. We are civilized, they are barbarians. What we are fighting for is objectively superior to what they are fighting for. Our struggle is legitimate, theirs is not. There is no room for moral relativism in this war. Certainly those who view torture and beheading as acts of piety have no problem seeing it as a black and white conflict. And when faced with extremism of this sort, we should take it at face value.